Traditional Publishing

Creative writing: stretching your imaginative powers – Friday June 23, 2023

Most children make up stories when they are young but as real life begins to take over, these creative powers are often left to dwindle.

While some people continue writing and making up stories throughout their lives, others tend to stop when they reach a certain age.

However, there are many benefits associated with creative writing and it’s a hobby that’s well worth re-exploring as an adult.

Put your imagination to work by finding out how it feels to make up stories, write poetry, pen your memoirs or simply experiment on the page.

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Taking poetry off the page – Tuesday June 20, 2023

Are you a lover of visual poetry and just don’t know it yet? From childhood encounters with Lewis Carroll’s "The Mouse’s Tale" through to the influence of the concrete poetry movement on design (would the Yves Saint-Laurent logo have been invented without the inventions of the Brazilian concrete poets of the 1950s? – I doubt it), visual poetry is in the air all around us. More than that, it’s also increasingly incorporated into architecture and printed on buildings, and with a new exhibition called "Poetry & Architecture" just opened at Hay Castle, there’s no better time for publishers to embrace this genre-shattering form. 

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Soviet-style groupthink means only one thing: terrible books – Tuesday June 20, 2023

In 1957, the manuscript of Boris Pasternak’s novel Doctor Zhivago was smuggled out of the Soviet Union and handed to the Italian publisher Giangiacomo Feltrinelli. The book was hailed as a masterpiece, and in 1958, Pasternak was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature, an honour that he initially accepted, but then, under pressure from the Soviet literary establishment, renounced.

Is Doctor Zhivago still a masterpiece? If excellence in art is the ability to channel brilliance of imagination into equally brilliant language, then Pasternak stands as one of the indisputable pillars of Russian literature.

But the definition of excellence is changing. Julie Finch, the chief executive of the Hay literary festival, observed that, “Youth audiences don’t really care for something that was published 20 years ago, they care about what’s popular now.”

Alongside popularity, a host of other qualities are now required. The self-appointed cultural commissars of our own time are just as vigilant as the state apparatchiks of the former Soviet Writers’ Union, and their verdict can be equally fatal to a writer’s work.

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Cormac McCarthy Had a Remarkable Literary Career. It Could Never Happen Now. – Tuesday June 20, 2023

Cormac McCarthy, who died last week at 89, had a famously unusual career. His first five novels, published over two decades, earned him considerable critical respect but were commercial failures. At one time, all of his books, including his 1985 masterpiece, “Blood Meridian,” fell out of print.

Then something remarkable happened. In 1992, after a career spent eking out a living, Mr. McCarthy had a hit. “All the Pretty Horses,” which won the National Book Award and was adapted by Hollywood, set him squarely on a path to literary stardom and an outsize reputation as one of the greatest novelists of his time.

This improbable trajectory — writer toils for decades in obscurity before finding international renown — is the stuff of legend. But it did not occur by accident or happenstance. Mr. McCarthy’s career was made possible by a tectonic shift that was happening in the publishing industry as it moved from the boutique model of the early 20th century to an era of conglomeration. If the first part of his career was illustrative of publishing’s old model, the second half was made possible by a new approach. With his famed reclusiveness and idiosyncratic prose style, Mr. McCarthy might seem like an obdurate anachronism. But his career arc reveals that he was serendipitously of his time.

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The Novel Opening

By G. Miki Hayden
Instructor at Writer's Digest University online and private writing coach – Sunday June 4, 2023

The opening of your novel is an opportunity to seize the interest of the agent, the editor, and/or the reader. Opportunities are to be taken, and this is a particularly meaty one. Here is where you set the hook, often within the first paragraph.

What do you want from the persons reading your initial words? You want them to be curious about “what comes next?” And that’s what you want throughout the novel but the initial words or pages is perhaps the only chance you have to elicit that response. Because if you don’t set the hook, the agent, editor, or civilian reader will pass you by.

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9 Authors Whose TikTok Popularity Helped Get Them Published – Thursday June 1, 2023

TikTok, specifically BookTok, is now the hottest thing in the publishing industry. And because it has become so popular for readers, it has many aspiring authors feeling somewhat apprehensive. Many feel pressure (warranted or not) to have a huge following on the platform in order to get a literary agent’s interest, and buiding that audience is no easy feat.

Testament to that popularity, TikTok has already worked many wonders in the publishing world. It once unearthed a book published years ago from oblivion to recognition to bestseller. It serves as an alternative to Goodreads for giving recommendations and sharing reviews. It helps children to read more books. And despite others’ criticism of how the subcommunity works, including a backlash about creating hype for “toxic and problematic books,” many believe it’s still beneficial, especially in boosting sales and visibility.

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The side hustle that keeps a literary author’s career afloat – Thursday June 1, 2023

The list of past guest speakers at Crit, the writing workshop that author Tony Tulathimutte runs out of his Brooklyn apartment, reads like a veritable who’s who of 21st-century literary greats. Jonathan Franzen, Hua Hsu and Carmen Maria Machado have all popped by as guests at the eight-week course. And while Tulathimutte describes himself as “literally just some guy” on his website, he’s won an O Henry award, and former students like Beth Morgan and Rax King have gone on to earn lucrative book deals and win highly prestigious prizes.

Tulathimutte, 39, founded Crit in 2017 after winning the Whiting award for his first novel, Private CitizensWhile he had previously taught courses at Sarah Lawrence College and the University of Massachusetts, and led workshops for indie companies like Sackett Street Writers, these gigs came and went. Running his own school seemed like a more sustainable way to make a living while maintaining his career as an author (Tulathimutte announced the sale of his second novel, Rejection, earlier this year). According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, writers and authors earn on average $69,510 a year, while an alarming Authors Guild survey showed that its members drew a median income of $6,080 in 2017, down 42% from 2009. “I figured if I could get enough applications coming in, running my own class would be more stable [than waiting for invitations],” Tulathimutte said.

Crit accepts nine students per session. They meet twice a week (Wednesdays and Fridays) over the course of two months. Spots cost $800, netting Tulathimutte approximately $30,000 per year. He supplements his income by accepting freelance writing assignments and visiting faculty positions. He is currently a thesis adviser at Brooklyn College.

In the six years since Crit’s inception, Tulathimutte has managed to build not just a successful side hustle, but a thriving community of writers. He hosts book swaps, parties, even a dedicated Slack channel where alumni can chitchat, form casual writing groups and perhaps land a connection to the agent or editor who will launch their career.

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How to Start a Literary Magazine – Wednesday May 31, 2023

In the latest “Craftwork” episode, Declan Meade talks with Brad about starting and editing a literary magazine. He is the founding editor and publisher of The Stinging Fly, one of the world’s premiere literary magazines, based in Dublin, Ireland. You may have read about Declan and The Stinging Fly in the New York Times back in April 2023, in a feature story by Max Ufberg.

Brad Listi: What about for people listening who might want to submit, but also people who might have an interest in starting their own magazine? I’d be interested to hear you talk about the editorial process when somebody gets a yes, and what in general the editorial process entails at the Stinging Fly. I have to believe that it’s lovely to get a story where you feel like it’s almost all done. And usually I think when a writer is in command of the work, there usually isn’t a ton to do. But are there instances where the work is like 75 percent of the way there, and in the editorial process you get the rest of the way? What does it look like for somebody who gets a yes to work with you in an editorial capacity?

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Peter James reveals thought process in writing his novels – Tuesday May 30, 2023

Best-selling writer Peter James is better known for words than numbers and has confessed he didn't care much for maths at school.

But now the Grace author has teamed up with the charity National Numeracy - and revealed how numbers have become key to his work.

In an exclusive interview to support National Numeracy Day, Brighton-born Peter gave a unique insight into how he writes his best-selling books.

How do you use numeracy in your work?
When I’m starting a new book – and I’ve done this for years – I set myself a target for each week. I find the first 20 pages are very slow because I go back and back and back, and then as I progress with a book it gets quicker and then towards the end it slows down again.

I started the 20th Roy Grace novel on April 24 so for that Saturday, 29, I put a target of page 5. Then the following week, page 15, then the following week, page 30. Then I go slightly bigger – up to page 50. Every book of mine is around about 450 pages long.

Depending on if it’s a busy week or a quiet week I’ll set myself a target of either ten, 15, 20 or 25 pages. I go through week by week until I get to what I call ‘page 500’ and that’s the finish. So at the moment, the target for page 500 is November 25. My pages are double spaced and about 250 words.

Each week, if I’m over my target I feel really happy but if I’m under then I know I’ve got to write more the next week. It really works for me, I can tell where I am every week in terms of the schedule for the book. Numeracy really helps me with keeping on track in terms of scheduled writing.

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Writing for TV is nothing like you (probably) thought – Monday May 29, 2023

The entertainment industry’s fourth wall is crumbling as more than 11,000 unionized writers picket for the first time since the 2007 strike, venting more than a decade’s worth of frustrations about the experience of working behind the scenes in Hollywood.

TV writers, whose projects are most immediately affected by the strike, have been trying to undo misconceptions about their jobs, which they say were never particularly glamorous even in the heyday of network TV. In the age of Netflix and Disney Plus, many writers say, grueling workloads and vanishing job security threaten the entire profession.

The Washington Post spoke to writers, union organizers with the Writers Guild of America, studio representatives and experts to debunk some persistent myths about TV writing.

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